feature How do you help the victims? Zoha: Our way of helping is unique. The money raised goes directly to needy families in countries that have been affected by natural disasters, via a trustworthy point-person. At the moment, we are starting out small and working only in Japan, Haiti, and Pakistan. The reliable contacts are situated in each of these countries, and they ensure that the funds get to their proper destinations. Each family we send aid to writes us a letter every 4 months and the Zoha Bharwani letters are in turn displayed in the ‘meet the families section’ of our website. Has it been an easy journey or have you faced many obstacles along the way? Zoha: When you are working for a good cause, things automatically fall into place. My family and friends have helped me find my ambassadors. Nizar Jaffer Basaria is in Pakistan and Yukiko Kaboki is in Japan and both are renowned for employing outstanding catastrophe investigation principles and have been a great asset to our organization.
The art of giving back By Mehak Alam
oha Bharwani a 15 year old Canadian expat student at the International School of Choueifat, is the founder of After Catastrophe. It is a non-profit charitable organization focused on helping rebuild the lives of families in areas affected by natural disasters and providing them with long-term aid and resources. I had the pleasure of meeting Zoha and was eager to learn how someone so young has successfully taken on such a huge challenge.
What inspired you to found After Catastrophe? Zoha: My life completely changed while on a family trip to Pakistan in 2010. What I saw their gave me a different perspective on life and a new found appreciation of the blessings many of us take for granted. I visited the camps where flood victims were living. When I first entered the camps everything seemed stable and settled but after speaking to the locals, I understood that things were not what they seemed. These people were living with the horrifying reality of having lost family and friends and adding insult to injury, displaced from homes that were completely destroyed along with their few worldly possessions. How did you get started? Zoha: The organization initially started off as a web-based relief group (www.aftercatastrophe.com), but thanks to the support received from friends, family and schoolmates, we have experienced an incredible amount of growth over the past two years. 16
Why do you do this? Zoha: I have been asked this question many times and there are, in fact, many reasons. The main one is that I care. I know I’m fortunate enough to be able to help, so why not? I know helping is the right thing to do, so what is stopping me from doing it? People never deserve to have tragic events tear their lives apart and in the wake of such catastrophes, require the aid necessary to set them on their feet again. No matter how much or how little I do, I’m touching the lives of people who need it. All of us have had our fair share of problems and have managed to overcome them with the help of someone special. Wouldn’t you want to be that special someone for somebody in need? I know I would. Are you registered with any government bodies? Zoha: Yes, we are registered with the UAE Red Crescent who ensures that donations are securely allocated to proper charities. Moreover unlike other NGO’s, After Catastrophe continues to stay connected with the victims to monitor their progress and provide further assistance if required. When we talk to the families, it adds the feeling of achievement and motivates us to work harder to spread more happiness. Have you had any recent fundraising events? Zoha: I recently organized an event called ‘Music 4 Charity’ in Al Ain Mall. I performed live with a student band called Mainstream 747. The event was supported by the mall and the UAE Red Crescent to help collect donations for humanitarian needs. We collected AED2000 for families affected by devastating floods and earthquakes in Pakistan. How can people contribute and make donations to After Catastrophe? Zoha: There are several ways. You can simply log on to www. aftercatstrophe.com and click on the DONATE tab or attend one of our Music for Charity events and either perform or donate on the spot. Most important of all, by informing your family and friends about our NGO, you will create the awareness necessary to help our organization grow and continue to provide aid to those in need on a broader global scale.